Why are we expending mental and emotional energy as we lovingly engage ourselves in the lives of others with all tehir intricate and perplexing problems? More generally why are we going through difficulties in the service of Christ? It is easy to default to the thinking that we are called to suffering and that is how it is and we have to get on with it. But such an attitude can soon lead to the “martyr complex” which means that we glory in how much we are suffering.
Paul would not let us have this focus. His focus was on joy. So we see in 2 Corinthians 2:1-4 a little taste of Paul’s attitude to ministry. He is wanting the Corinthians to deal with the sin in their midst (see 1 Cor. 5:1-5). The fact that there is this sin in the church is causing him great distress. So we read in v4 For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. And he only inflicts pain on the Corinthians because he wants the matter dealt with and so they can share joy. So we read of gladness (v2) and joy (v3).
Paul’s goal is joy. He wants sin dealt with in the church because there can never be joy when sin is around. And he will get distressed and seek to distress others so that sin is dealt with. But his goal is not the distress and the suffering. Rather, joy is his settled purpose.
Are we similarly set on this goal of labouring for joy? In all this we remember the ministry of our Saviour who went through the ultimate sin dealing with suffering so as to enter into the ultimate joy. Let us ponder upon the immense implications of how our Saviour Fixing our eyes on the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).
Oh Lord please save me form a martyr complex and fix my being on labouring for joy and gladness.